Not for the better
My wife and I are 18-year residents of Chapel Hill. We have loved living here, with the varied and easily accessible activities in the Triangle.
Over the past few years, however, we have been feeling that Chapel Hill is not changing for the better. Over the past 18 years, Chapel Hill has lost several movie theaters and suffered the very unsightly (and unsafe) mess where the theater used to be in the Whole Foods shopping center. We have seen more building downtown, but little or no added parking – so we go to Franklin Street less often to shop or eat.
During this time, Durham developed the American Tobacco complex, which we now visit for concerts and restaurants. Durham has also engineered a downtown revival, with many new restaurants, etc. Raleigh also re-awakened its downtown area; now there are more people on the streets during evenings and weekends, and more things to do there.
I have wondered why Chapel Hill did not find a way to turn the space on Elliott Road into a nice park, suitable for the kinds of concerts and activities now scheduled at American Tobacco. A great space for craft fairs and farmer’s market. A central place with space for lots of things.
Now I am wondering why Chapel Hill is letting the American Legion acreage go – forfeiting another great opportunity to develop a space for concerts, park activities, etc. Why do we always squander these opportunities?
Is it leadership? Money? If either of these, let the people decide. Hold a referendum before it is too late, and all of the favorable locations are filled with condos, hotels, stores, etc. Before we, the people, are only residing here, but living our lives in other communities.
There have been several letters to the editor and columns on the sale of the American Legion property. None has explained how the town would find the $10 million needed to purchase the property. Please require all future treatises published in the CHN on sale of the Legion property to include how the writer would proposed to fund the purchase of the property.
John E. Hammond
Please allow me in this way to offer my sincere thanks to those who assisted me yesterday morning (March 9) after I fell from my bike while riding south on N.C. 86 approaching Hillsborough.
Having no previous experience with the new “rumble strips” now being installed on our highways, on my first encounter with one I lost control, and a few seconds later found myself at the bottom of a steep embankment by a small creek, with my bike on the other side.
Luckily, I had only a few bruises, but I might not have been able to climb back up, and certainly not to drag my bike up, had I not been rescued by three complete strangers – possibly husband, wife, and grown son. In my confusion I did not get their names, but perhaps from this letter they will learn of my gratitude, and that I am making a contribution of $200 in their honor to Habitat of Orange County.
Auto dealer moving
Earlier this month, Performance Auto Mall’s executive general manager, Gerald Ramoin, shared with Town Manager Roger Stancil and me that the dealership will be moving to a location outside of Chapel Hill in 2017.
“The move is a product of our success for more than 20 years,” Gerald told us when he explained that the dealership has outgrown its current 14-acre site and will be joining other Hendrick dealerships on an 88-acre site near Southpoint mall.
In addition to serving as an important business presence in town, those familiar with Performance Auto Mall and, especially, Gerald Ramoin, know that this organization has been a stalwart supporter of our community – often as a sponsor and donor for key community events and organizations.
While we are happy to know that Chapel Hill has helped make Performance Auto Mall a great success, we are also saddened that it will be leaving.
Recognizing that this decision has been made at a corporate level, the town’s economic development officer, Dwight Bassett, indicates that there is strong interest in redevelopment of the site, which sits adjacent to the town’s Ephesus/Fordham district.
As we wait to learn more, we express our gratitude and best wishes to Gerald and his staff.
Mandela, dignity and tiny houses
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Nelson Mandela’s words inspire me. Mandela achieved what was not believable. Mandela’s words remind me that change requires sustained effort and the belief that what appears unachievable is possible.
In my interlaced hands I hold two beliefs I cannot separate. Good food is basic to survival, and community must provide for those who are food insecure.
Safe shelter is basic to survival; community must provide for those who are unsheltered. We must deal with the reality that in the greater Carrboro-Chapel Hill community means are in place to address food insecurity. Securing shelter for all who are unsheltered is not viewed with the same level of significance. Why? It is a complicated problem with what appears to be insurmountable obstacles.
Thought leaders with the Portland, Oregon, Dignity Village and those creating Tiny House Projects believe in what appears to some as unachievable. That is to have basic needs of the unsheltered met in a safe, “stable, sanitary environment free from violence, theft, disruption of peace and drugs and alcohol.”
As I suggested at a Board of Aldermen meeting in November 2015, we can do better than only feeding the unsheltered. We must urge our neighboring municipalities and county to work collaboratively to provide safe shelter for our unsheltered. After the November Board meeting I began looking into nationally and locally recognized programs and those that are dismantling the impossible task of sheltering the unsheltered.
When I read of Dignity Village in Portland, I cried. Dignity is named and prized above all other qualities the village provides. Dignity is the quality that inspired and motivated the Carrboro Board of Aldermen to act and support a partnership with El Centro in the development of the day labor center that became the Center for Employment and Leadership (CEL). Carrboro recognized the importance of dignifying the efforts of day labor workers seeking an honest days work and fair wages. While still in a nascent stage, CEL is the first worker center in our state, our region and the south to address the dignity of day workers. It seemed impossible until it was done.
I ask that our interdependent communities, Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Orange County roll up our sleeves and work to raise expectations, look to the tiny house and Farm at Penny Lane as models for your inspiration. Let us ensure that no one in our multi-jurisdictional communities is invisible before or after a meal, that all are regarded with dignity and respect and that together we determine to establish a progressive triple “T” dignity village from tents to transitional and tiny housing within our county.
The writer is a member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.
A vegan spring
After another winter of severe snowstorms and floods, I look forward to March 20, first day of spring, balmy weather, and blooming flowers.
Hundreds of communities welcome spring with an observance of Great American Meatout, asking neighbors to explore a healthy, compassionate diet of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains.
Indeed, 56 percent of respondents to a GlobalMeatNews poll said that they were or are reducing meat intake. U.S. per capita red meat consumption has dropped by more than 16 percent since 1999.
Mainstream publications like Parade, Better Homes and Gardens, and Eating Well are touting vegan recipes. Even the financial investment community is betting on plant-based meat start-ups, like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods, while warning clients about the upcoming “death of meat.”
The reasons are ample. Last year, the World Health Organization found cancer to be associated with consumption of processed meats. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended reduced meat consumption. The media keeps exposing atrocities perpetrated on factory farms. And, animal agriculture remains chief contributor to climate change and water scarcity and pollution.
Each of us should celebrate our own advent of spring by checking out plant-based foods at our supermarkets and vegan recipes on the internet.
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